In order to guarantee the well-being and good health your rabbit, you want to adapt the care, diet and activities to its age. However, you do not know it and wish to determine it with precision. Alas, it is difficult – not to say impossible – to estimate exact age of a lagomorph because the young and the mature look like two drops of water. You will not be able to get detailed information, even with the help of a veterinarian or other animal expert. Nevertheless, certain characteristics make it possible to distinguish a rabbit teenager of a adult or a senior. To tell the difference, only a keen sense ofobservation is required. So keep an eye out!
Three age groups for the rabbit
If you do not know the year of birth of your rabbit, the only solution is to place him in an age group corresponding to the major stages of his life.
- The early childhood of the rabbit. Babies are born naked, deaf, blind (eyes closed) and spend the first week of their life hidden in a nest of hair made by their mother. From birth to weaning, the rabbit grows like a mushroom and acquires more and moreautonomy. He begins to explore the outside of the cage, to run, to play, to jump in all directions. The young rabbit suckles its mother once or twice a day, usually at night;
- The Adolescence of the Rabbit. From 3 to 6 months, the rabbit comes out of infancy to discover adolescence. During this period, he grows very quickly, taking up to a hundred grams per week. It is also during this phase that he eats the most, with a record of consumption observed around 4 months to respond to an intense expenditure of energy. The first signs of puberty sometimes occur as early as 3 months;
- The adult rabbit. At 6 months, growth is practically complete and the rabbit gradually enters its adult phase. Up to a year, he will still gain a little weight, but his size will stabilize. No longer having the same needs, it is necessary to start rationing it and sterilization if his libido becomes troublesome. From one year on, the animal’s physique hardly changes, which makes it difficult to differentiate between 2 and 4 year old rabbits;
- The senior rabbit. From the age of 5, the lagomorph passes into the senior category. Its aging leads to the appearance of health problems that require regular veterinary follow-up. Life expectancy of the domestic rabbit is usually between 8 and 12 years old, but some individuals sometimes reach 14 to 16 years old.
Differentiate a baby rabbit from an adolescent rabbit
This stage of the rabbit’s life is the easiest to recognize since at birth, the animal ishairless and blind. If he still spends a lot of time with his mother, it is because he is still in the growth. From 6 to 8 days, you will see his eyes open and his hairs appear. After the second week, his coat is complete, his ears peel off then stand up. The young begin to taste the grass, the foliage and around 3 weeks, it regularly ventures out of the nest and begins to react to the sounds. From the 4e or 5e week, he separates very frequently from his mother. the weaning ends when the young rabbit feeds on its own: it is about 2 months old and enters adolescence. The puberty occurs when it begins to produce reproductive hormones, most often from 4 months. His sexual behavior then becomes a good indicator of its approximate age. Between 4 and 6 months, the adolescent shows signs of excitement: he tries to reproduce with the opposite sex and may seek a fight with another male.
Determine if a rabbit is an adolescent or an adult
Between 6 and 9 months according to its breed, the rabbit has reached its size adult. It is during this phase that the estimation of its age becomes complicated and that a careful observation of the animal is required through several gestures such as :
- Palpate his ribs. If the rib bones are still soft and move under the pressure of the fingers, the rabbit is not yet 6 months old;
- Look at his teeth. In juveniles, the dentition is uniform and white. The yellow tint appears after its first year and the older the rabbit, the more its teeth turn yellow from chewing solid foods which gradually remove the enamel;
- Scrutinize his claws. Before puberty, the rabbit’s nails are soft and have blood vessels. After 6 months, they matify and harden;
- Examine his coat. The rabbit is born hairless with pink, gray, or black skin. Its coat appears after a week of life and then covers the whole body in the second week. The first moult takes place around 5-6 weeks and the second around 4-5 months to finally become a beautiful coat;
- Observe his activity. A rabbit coming out of adolescence becomes more mature. He explored the world and now shows himself less curious of its environment. Result: he no longer fidgets in all directions and reduces the number of his nonsense!
Distinguish an adult rabbit from an elderly rabbit
From around 5-6 years of age, rabbits may show signs of old age. To know if the animal has entered its phase senior, you will examine different aspects of him:
- His behavior. An adult rabbit becomes active as soon as it wakes up and feeds with appetite, while a senior significantly slows down its activity. He is calmer, sleeps more often reacts less to interactions, seems less interested in his environment;
- His movements. A decrease in activity can result from a lack of desire but also from pains. If the animal shows slowness or even reluctance to move, it may suffer fromosteoarthritis, especially on the rear legs and back. For example, you will notice more steep to handling. Take the opportunity to feel its paws. An underside thick and hard reveals a certain immobility corresponding to the behavior of a senior rabbit;
- His weight. Two cases can occur in an aging rabbit: by slowing down its pace of life, it gains weight or conversely, it may lack appetite and to lose weight. Weighing it regularly thus makes it possible to locate the age category of the animal because an adult individual generally keeps a weight stable ;
- His teeth. The mere observation of the incisors is not enough because the teeth wear down and grow constantly, unrelated to age. However, although a rabbit can suffer from teeth oversized at any time in their life, an elderly person tends to eat less and, therefore, have too much long teeth. This symptom may cause the animal to grind its teeth or to drool;
- His senses. A drop in seen and / orhearing represent particularly revealing signs of aging in all animals, including the lagomorph. In the event of vision or hearing problems, an elderly rabbit interacts less with its environment than an adult;
- His coat. A healthy adult rabbit wears soft fur and brilliant. Older people wash their clothes less often and with age, their coat looks more dull and sparse. Its hair can also turn gray or even whiten around the muzzle.